Unprecedented times called for unprecedented measures as trustees, President Jason Allen, and a handful of administrators met for the first time in the school’s history via conference calls and video streaming sessions to address key issues and institutional business during the school’s Spring Trustee meeting on March 30.
Amidst concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, trustees joined an early-morning main session conference call with Allen for seminary updates. Later in the morning, committees met via video technology to conduct seminary business, and then in the mid-afternoon, the Board’s Executive Committee met to vote on and adopt the measures recommended by the committees.
The seminary’s response to the Coronavirus and budgetary issues dominated Allen’s updates, where he underscored the seminary’s solid position despite these trying times.
“Our nation is clearly entering a season of economic disruption and uncertainty,” he explained. “It is impacting not just businesses and families, but also churches, ministries, and educational institutions. By God’s kind providence, Midwestern Seminary enters this season of economic uncertainty in a strong financial position.
“In cash and unrestricted financial assets, we have in reserve nearly one year of operating expenses. We have a conservative budget model, wherein we plan to spend under our projected revenues. More broadly, we have no long-term debt, and over the past seven years, we’ve caught up on nearly all campus deferred-maintenance needs. Strategically, we’ve maintained a smaller campus footprint, thus minimizing operating overhead, and contributing to our sustainable business model.”
Allen went on to explain that while Midwestern Seminary continually emphasizes financial stewardship in all areas of operations and decision-making, now the issue is one of critical importance.
“This is a season of focused stewardship for all ministries, including Midwestern Seminary. In recent days, we revised downward our proposed 2020/21 seminary budget by $1.9 million to $26,797,000, which is still an increase over last year’s budget of $25,358,760.
“We’ll continue to monitor the situation closely and further reduce our budget as circumstances necessitate. What is more, the Cooperative Program is essential to our work and to our students. Any negative impact the Coronavirus crisis has on the Cooperative Program will have negative impacts on our ministry—and on the pastors, ministers, and missionaries we’re training.”
He added that Midwestern Seminary will continue to closely monitor the Coronavirus crisis—and the economic downturn it has spawned—noting its impact on local churches, students, and theological education, and then the school will adapt accordingly.
“Wisdom and prudence are definitely the orders of the day. Yet, we can look toward the future, even amidst gathering economic storm clouds, with hopefulness.”
In presenting the institution’s spring semester enrollment, Allen explained that both headcount and hours sold had reached record levels, saying, “This spring semester we’ve once again enjoyed a record enrollment. Our academic year is also shaping up to be our largest enrollment in history, both in terms of headcount and hours taken.
“For this academic year, we’re projecting a total enrollment of 4,200-to-4,300 students, up from 4,000 students last year. We’re thankful for God’s kind providence and that Southern Baptists continue to resonate with our vision—for the church.”
Allen concluded his comments saying, “In many ways, this academic year has already been one of unprecedented institutional achievement. We have both our highest enrollment and our strongest financial balance sheet in history. In absentia, this May we’ll graduate our largest class in history. Our seminary library is currently receiving a comprehensive renovation and other signs of institutional momentum continue unabated. Come what may economically, we’ll continue on with our resolve to serve Southern Baptist churches.”
The Business Services Committee recommended to the full board the adoption of the proposed 2020-21 budget as well as approval of the 2020-21 Schedule of Fees. Both recommendations were approved by the board.
In other business, during the plenary session the trustees re-elected and promoted faculty members and selected board officers for the upcoming year.
In recommendations coming from the Academic Committee, the trustees re-elected Robin Hadaway as professor of missions and Gary Taylor Chair of Missions and Evangelism; Tom Johnston as professor of evangelism; John Lee as associate professor of New Testament; and granted approval for Michael McMullen’s sabbatical request.
The committee also recommended the promotion of David Sundeen from assistant professor to associate professor of ministry and evangelism; Matthew Swain from assistant professor to associate professor of worship ministries, Steven Thompson from assistant professor to associate professor of pastoral ministry; and Jason G. Duesing from associate professor to professor of historical theology.
Additionally, the Board moved to reelect its current officers. As such, John Mathena, a businessman from Edmond, Okla., will serve a third term as chairman; Lee Roberson, a businessman from Hobbs, N.M., remains first vice chairman; Chad McDonald, a pastor from Lenexa, Kan., will continue as second vice chairman; and Bryan Pain, a pastor from Duncan, Okla., continues his responsibilities as secretary.
Midwestern Seminary’s Board of Trustees consists of 35 members and meets biannually in October and April.